Compliance for registered journalism organizations
Registered journalism organizations (RJO) have certain obligations as qualified donees under the Income Tax Act. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses a variety of compliance activities to make sure RJOs meet these obligations.
An RJO's obligations include:
- ensuring that it continues to meet the eligibility criteria for registration
- filing Form T1000-1, Registered Journalism Organization Information Return and related documents, within six months after its fiscal period end
- keeping books and records that demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements under the Act, and providing these to the CRA on request
- ensuring that official donation receipts it issues meet the requirements of the Act
- ensuring that it does not serve as a conduit by accepting a gift with the condition that it makes a gift to another person or entity
Limitation on amounts an RJO may receive
In any given taxation year, an RJO may not receive gifts from any one source that represent more than 20% of its total revenues (including donations) for the year, unless the gift is:
- made by bequest
- made within 12 months after the organization is first registered
- approved by the Minister of National Revenue on a case-by-case basis
A source includes one person, such as an individual, corporation, or trust. It can also be a group of persons that do not deal with each other at arm’s length. For more information on this criteria see paragraphs 5.20 to 5.21 in the Guidance on the income tax measures to support journalism.
How we promote compliance
We generally approach compliance through education first. There are a number of tools at our disposal, including our audit program. Audits help us maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the registration system and are a key part of the compliance program.
If compliance concerns are identified in an audit, we will send a letter that outlines those concerns and give the RJO the chance to respond before coming to a final decision. Depending on the severity of non-compliance found in the audit, the potential outcome can include one or more of the following:
- Education letters guide registered organizations through the steps they need to follow to be fully compliant.
- Compliance agreements outline areas of non-compliance and commit registered organizations to take corrective action.
- Sanctions include financial penalties and/or temporary suspension of the registered organization’s tax-receipting privileges as well as its qualified donee status.
- Revocation is the loss of registration and the privileges that go with it. It is used in serious cases of non-compliance with the Act.
In cases where an RJO is involved in serious non-compliance, or for repeat or multiple infractions, we may impose sanctions. These range from financial penalties to the temporary suspension of the RJO’s tax receipting privileges or both.
For a list of the sanctions that apply to RJOs, go to Penalties and suspensions for RJOs.
If an RJO's receipting privileges are suspended, the RJO:
- cannot issue official donation receipts
- must inform potential donors of the suspension and that it cannot issue official donation receipts
- is not eligible to receive gifts from other qualified donees
We may revoke the registration of an RJO if it:
- asks for voluntary revocation
- fails to meet its obligations as a qualified donee under the Act
A journalism organization that has its registration revoked no longer has qualified donee status.
An RJO can file an objection to a decision regarding a notice of:
- an assessment of a penalty
- a suspension of receipting privileges
- an intention to revoke registration
The time limit for filing an objection is 90 days from the date on the notice. The objection must be in writing and provide the reasons for the objection, supporting documents and all the relevant facts. The objection must be filed with the CRA's Appeals Branch. If the organization disagrees with the Appeals Branch’s decision, it can appeal the decision to the appropriate court.
For more information about this process, go to Objections and appeals and review the sections relevant to other qualifed donees.
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